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Having Trouble with New American Factfinder? GPO suggests a workaround browser problems

The “workaround” is to clear your browser’s cache, cookies, and history. The Census Bureau also suggests viewing the site in either Internet Explorer 9 or 8. The Bureau and its contractor should be really, really embarrassed about this and fix it quickly.

  • Workaround Solution for Redesigned American Factfinder Browser Issues. FDLP Desktop (31 January 2013).

    The U.S. Census Bureau has brought to our attention that the newly redesigned American FactFinder does not render properly in some Web browsers. Users have reported issues with various versions of Mozilla Firefox (FF) and Internet Explorer (IE).

    The Census Bureau is investigating the matter. In the meantime, their recommendation is to clear the browser’s cache, cookies, and history as a temporary solution. In addition, they recommend viewing the site in either IE 9 or 8. If issues are encountered, the following instructions are specific to IE 8 and up.

    1. Click on the “Tools” icon.
    2. Select “Internet Options”.
    3. Under the “General” tab, click on the “Delete” button under “Browsing history”.
    4. Select the following:
      • Temporary Internet files
      • Cookies
      • History
    5. Deselect:
      • “Preserve Favorites website data”
    6. Click on the “Delete” button.

    To clear the browser cache, cookies, and history for other browsers, visit the American FactFinder FAQ or check the browser’s Web site for browser-specific instructions.

    Be advised that clearing your browser’s cache, cookies, and history may impact saved sessions for other Web services.


New SSL policy in Firefox hurting tens of thousands of sites

“SSL” (Secure Sockets Layer) is a standard for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser to ensure that all data passed between the web server and the browser remains private.

The “geeks at Pingdom” describe a problem with the way Firefox version 3 handles “SSL certificates” (which the casual user does not even see under normal conditions):

If you visit a website with either an expired or a self-signed SSL certificate, Firefox 3 will not show that page at all. Instead it will display an error message, similar to any other browser error (for example a “page not found” 404 message).

…[T]his is not something that only affects smaller websites. For example, the SSL certificate for the official US Army website [https://www.us.army.mil/] is declared invalid by Firefox 3.

See also:
What is SSL? (ssl.com)
SSL (Webopedia)
SSL (Wikipedia)

Surfing with an Unsafe Browser?

A comprehensive study entitled, “Understanding the Web browser threat: Examination of vulnerable online Web browser populations and the “insecurity iceberg”” was recently released. It concludes that only 60 percent of the world’s Internet users surf with the latest, most-secure versions of their preferred browsers.

Why is this important? Upgrading to the latest, most-secure version of your favorite browser will provide better protection from Web dangers, such as spyware, phishing, and viruses. It is also important because it relates to changes that are coming to the FDLP Desktop.

A re-release of the FDLP Desktop is due in the next few months. This re-release will improve our dissemination of Program-related content and news, but also release new community-based interactivity.

During the course of the redesign, our research has shown that many of our users are surfing with legacy browsers. In addition to these legacy browsers being vulnerable to various Web dangers, they are also not built to today’s Web standards. While the upcoming re-release of the FDLP Desktop is being backcoded to allow for legacy browsers, such as IE6, we are not ensuring 100% compatibility. Meanwhile, users utilizing IE6 to surf the new Desktop will receive a warning at the top of their screen regarding the dangers of IE6 and an encouragement to upgrade.

So, with that said, which browsers/versions should we be using? Based on the report, they are:

Stay tuned! Next week, I will be releasing more information about the upcoming re-release of the FDLP Desktop as well as some new tools that we have up our sleeves.

IE insecure

According to the calculations of Washington Post Security blogger Brian Krebs, Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 was “unsafe” (that is, vulnerable to known security holes, with no available patches) for 284(!) days in 2006 — more than 75 percent of the time. By contrast, Firefox experienced a total of nine days’ worth of insecurity last year. Take a look at the vulnerability graph to see the problems with IE.

When are folks going to get wise, dump IE and instead use Firefox, Opera, Safari (for macs) or some other — any other! — standards-compliant, secure browser.